The ministry of a priest is in the person of Christ and is centered on the daily celebration of the Eucharist, said Bishop Samuel Aquila during the ordination mass of two priests for his diocese.
Fathers Jason Asselin and Luke Meyer were ordained June 3 for the Diocese of Fargo. He told his new priests to remember that, regardless of where they are or what they are doing, they must remain conscious that they are bringing Christ to others through their words and actions.
The bishop’s homily was filled with words of encouragement, guidance and instruction. He encouraged the new priests to grow in personal prayer. It is through personal prayer, he said, that one develops the heart, deepens one's relationship with God and discovers that Jesus Christ is the truth.
“In your personal prayer, you must discover the loving gaze of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit upon you. Have confidence,” he said. “This confidence is essential for every priest to know himself as loved by the Father.”
The bishop described God’s loving gaze in terms of a parent’s gaze on their newborn child. “That is only a glimpse and a taste of the Father’s gaze upon us,” he said.
The main thrust of the bishop’s homily was on the Eucharist and its significance in the life of the priest and the Church.
“Jesus continues each and every day to make himself a total self gift for us in the Eucharist,” he said. “Each time you celebrate the Eucharist, you, together with Jesus Christ the head and shepherd, make yourselves a total gift to the Father and to the people you serve,” he told the new priests. “Like Christ, you lay down your life for your flock.
“The Eucharist is the supreme nourishment for our vocation. It is important for us and for every priest to do what the Church asks of him, to celebrate the Eucharist daily,” he said.
“Because the Eucharist belongs to the Church, you must have a deep reverence for the celebration of the Eucharist. You must have a reverence for the Church's liturgical norms guiding the Eucharist.
“The Eucharist is not personally yours. It is not your mass,” he stressed. “The mass belongs to Jesus Christ and to the Church. The Church guides that. No priest has the right to add or to take away anything from the liturgical rites of the Church. This is especially important as we anticipate the coming changes which will occur in the Roman Missal,” he instructed.
The bishop urged everyone in the assembly to practice daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, even if it is only for 15 minutes. “The more you adore Christ in the Eucharist, the more you will come to understand who is present when you celebrate the mass,” he told his new priests.
He urged the new priests to remember that their pastoral ministry is always in the person of Christ.
“The faith of the Church is that there is an ontological change that occurs in your lives. You are changed forever. That means whether you are hearing confessions, anointing the sick, whether you are hiking or fishing, whether you are celebrating the mass, no matter what you are doing, even in sin, you bring Christ the head and shepherd with you,” he said. “By your words and actions, you bring Christ to others.”
“Your ministry must be grounded in Christ’s pastoral charity,” he offered. “In your preaching and teaching, always teach the truth and charity.
“Have true devotion to Mary.”